Soul sounds


Concert Choir and Chamber Singers want to make choral concerts exciting

Paul Bogdan
A&C Writer

While the school year may be winding down for most students, it’s really starting to pick up for the Music Department. Two upcoming productions from the Music Department are the Concert Choir here at the University Theatre and Chamber Singers on the smaller Shubox Theatre next door on April 3 and 7 respectively. The Concert Choir is a non-auditioned group of seventy-five students from all different areas of the university. However, the Chamber Singers is 25-member, auditioned group that usually consists of upper-level music students, but also has a few professors here at the university who perform with the group as well.

The Concert Choir performance focuses on themes of both communication and the lack thereof. Jean-Marie Kent,  director of choral activities for the Music Department, was thinking about “the way that music is a tool for communication …[so] we’re doing a concert that’s about the difficulty of finding the right words to say in different situations. There’s [also] some things about miscommunication … I decided that it’s a really good match to do as a concert that would benefit an organization that is about learning language and literacy.”

Students were already given a miniature preview of the Concert Choir performance earlier in the month when the choir flash-mobbed the Riddell Centre, performing a song and choreographed routine during the middle of the day that sufficiently mind-fucked just about everyone that witnessed it.

Kent doesn’t want to put on the archetypical choir performance; she is keen on “engaging the audience in new ways so that the audience doesn’t just sit, listen, and clap – that their role will be more than that … I’m hoping that there will be some surprises.” This will prove to make the production much more exciting, entertaining, and accessible. “It’s supposed to be really fun. It’s only an hour long; it should be accessible to everyone that comes.”

Finding new ways to engage the audience is aided by the students’ willingness to be open to new ideas and think of performing in a choral ensemble in ways that they might not have previously done. “I think that students are really keen to try new things with me … in both choirs … which is really nice to [be able to] say that we’re going to do [something like] … the flash-mob, and everyone got really excited about it and did it.”

Students can get into the performance for free with their ID, but they are asked to make a donation to the Regina Open Door Society. “We talked to them, and asked them if they’d be interesting in having a benefit concert, and that we would collect books for little kids because they have a child care centre. We’re collecting books, and people can make a donation at the door that goes directly to them. There’s no ticket price for the concert; it’s all donations.”

The Chamber Singers performance on April 7 is focused around the life of the late Courtney Milne, a Saskatchewan photographer who passed away this past August. “The concert that we’re doing, Landscape of the Soul, is in memory of Courtney Milne, who … was an honorary Doctorate at the University of Regina, and then he moved from there to photographing around the world. The music follows the arc of his life.”

Choir performances often feature some sort of visual aspect in one way or another, but the Chamber Singers performance will feature projections that will be cast upon the students and the floor so that “it’s more seamless between what [the choir] is singing and what [the audience] sees … often times in concerts there’s a separation between what you see and what you hear on stage, and we wanted to combine the two more fluently.”

Being an auditioned group, the level of musicianship with the Chamber Singers is quite high. Kent says the audience can expect “pure beauty” from the performance. “We had a rehearsal in the Shubox Theatre, [and it was] just really gorgeous. The music sounds good in there; there are really nice acoustics for singing. Paired with everything else, I think it’s really beautiful.”

Both performances are set up to be two spectacular shows. Seating is more limited with the Chamber Singers performance, so don’t hesitate to reserve a spot. This can be done by getting in touch with Jean-Marie Kent at 585-5538.

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